Highlights: LOUD: Life Over Cancer Benefit Concert

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EDITOR: Correspondent Rika Alcasid attends De La Salle University’s Life Over Cancer, and event in support of the Philippine Cancer Society, Inc.

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Life over cancer. That was the tagline of “LOUD”, a benefit concert organized by De La Salle University’s Civil Engineering Society in support of the Philippine Cancer Society, Inc. (PCSI) on July 23. Over the course of the evening, I realized that it’s not just a gimmicky hashtag. It was the heart of the event and the words that all the brave cancer survivors who shared their stories embodied – the conscious decision to choose life and to keep fighting.

We had an evening full of fresh talent and forever favorites with music that varied just as much as the emotions and experiences one has throughout a lifetime. In between acts, beneficiaries from PCSI shared with us their stories about their hardships with cancer and how they got through it. The common theme among their stories was the urgent reminder to all of us to take care of our health. Not all cancer is based on lifestyle, but you can really reduce the risk of diseases and improve the quality of your life by simply prioritizing your wellness.

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The gig started just 15 minutes behind schedule with Grace So, a University of Sto. Tomas student who uploads covers on Soundcloud. Before the music started playing and all through her set, she appeared stiff and nervous, but that demeanor was quickly belied by her strong, jazzy voice. She had the crowd pleasantly surprised with her excellent vocal control and soulful tone, singing songs that perfectly matched her vocal style – my favorite was her cover of Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon”.

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Next up was Space Onigiri, a band that declares their genre as “shoegaze indie pop” and cites Tame Impala, Wild Nothing, Mac De Macco, and Last Dinosaurs as their musical inspirations. (Trivia: “shoegaze” is a subgenre of alternative rock, and the term was coined as a reference to the performers constantly looking down at their feet – both because they didn’t move around much on stage and because they used arrays of effects pedals. The more you know!) I couldn’t see much evidence of their Japanese influence anywhere other than their name, but I could definitely see how they’ve taken creative influence from alt-indie rock bands and morphed it into their own unique style.

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Colorectal cancer survivor Mr. Rodolfo David stressing the cruciality of having a healthy lifestyle.

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Performing next was Popoy Dela Cruz, a City Circle Media artist hailing from Laguna who uploads both covers and originals on Soundcloud. This acoustic musician is proudly influenced by Ed Sheeran – and it’s evident not just in his smooth and warm style or his loop pedals but in his boy-next-door brand of charm. As he serenaded us with mellow covers and engaged in some playful patter with the audience, he earned some screams and lots of swoons from the crowd.

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Cannon Fields then took the stage. I had never heard of this band before, so it was interesting for me to hear their dynamic sound – with delectable beats and fresh melodies, it is equal parts mollifying and danceable. Notable in their set was their new single “Fashionista”, which you can listen to here.

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Ms. Clarence de Leon awed us with her resilience in the face of Hodgkin’s lymphoma
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Ms. Sophia Joy Refulgente shared not only her inspiring story about breast cancer, but also her own personal prayer
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Mr. Romi Marcaida thanking the crowd for supporting the Philippine Cancer Society

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Three gorgeous girls then graced the stage. The Three Of Us – who went viral for their Facebook cover of “Roses” by The Chainsmokers – regaled us with some pillowy and serene acoustic covers. They started off with a beautiful mashup of “Ako Na Lang” by Zia Quizon and “Oo” by Up Dharma Down. I also heard backstage that one of the members, Adora San Pedro, donated to the Philippine Cancer Society! Thank you, Adora!

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Hosts for the night Makie and Franny from DLSU’s radio station Green Giant FM had exciting giveaways for all.
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Proof that their music is pure magic.

The crowd finally left the amphitheatre bleachers to get as close to the stage as they could for MilesExperience. Some girls even ran on the wet grass in a show of pure dedication. Anyway, Msex (as they are affectionately called by fans and peers) played a quickie of a set that still managed to fill hearts and souls in a short span of time. The band dedicated their song “Down” to those battling cancer, saying that we should always strive to stay happy in the face of struggle.

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Next to grace the stage were GMA actors Mikee Quintos and Louie Pedroso joined by Hans Canteras on keyboard and acoustic guitar. Louie opened the set by revealing that he was excited to be part of the cause because he himself is a cancer survivor! Save for a few technical difficulties and a rough start, the trio served up some sugary sweet harmonies in their soothing covers.

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After them was SUD, who undeniably got a lot of love from the crowd. They even started off their hit single “Sila” by letting the audience take over the vocals in true SUD Chorus fashion. As always, they smoothly switched up the vibe between getting listeners relaxing with “Skin” to dancing with “Profanities” while still keeping consistent with the signature sexy feel to their music.

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Suffice it to say that the crowd enjoyed themselves.

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Jensen and the Flips capped the event with style. All worries were forgotten and everyone just got lost in the jive to their set that was kicked off with “Lovechild”. This performance was particularly special because it was their first time performing complete with the original members in six months; and right after, they headed straight to SM Aura to end Scout Magazine’s 2nd anniversary concert. Hanga kami sa inyo, Flips!

After the concert, I sat down with the hosts and project head to chat about how it all went. As host Makie Ching put it, “This concert was a celebration of life.” Deeper than the actual act of performing music to raise money for cancer, it was a way of using music to touch hearts and celebrate everyone’s triumphs and hardships. It was an affirmation of my belief that music is a way to celebrate life and express gratitude for the lives we are living, no matter how difficult.

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